International Day Against Drug Abuse: Are Drugs rotting your teeth?


Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Apr 17, 2024

Written by Dr Amrita Jain

Medically reviewed by  Dr. Vidhi Bhanushali Kabade BDS, TCC

Last updated Apr 17, 2024

Drug Abuse has become the gravest problem affecting people across the world. When you are addicted to chemical infused drugs, you can’t resist the urge to use them. Drug addiction is not just about heroin, cocaine or core illegal drugs.

First-timers start using drugs because of the way it makes them feel. Most of them think that they can control how much and how often to use it over time, but drugs change the way brain functions. Understanding the thin line between drug addiction and abuse is important and its effects on your brain.

These categories of drugs include Heroin, Cocaine, Cannabis, Opiates, and Hallucinogens. They not only affect our systemic and mental health but also overall oral health.

Understanding the dental effects


Oral health problems are amongst the highest associated with drug addiction.

These drugs interact with the oral tissues and hamper the normal functioning of our body.


The first thing to notice is the increased craving for sugars and sweets after drug consumption making your teeth more susceptible to tooth cavities in the near future.

Increased sugar levels also affect the healing process of the tissues after any extraction surgeries, gum surgeries, ulcers and traumatic injuries of the oral cavity.


Saliva helps in the flushing of food particles and acts as a natural cleansing agent. The usage of drugs affects the salivary flow, reduces the effectiveness of saliva. This can further lead to dryness conditions of the mouth called xerostomia leading to tooth decay.

Due to this, teeth are prone to more plaque and calculus accumulations leading to more problems such as swollen gums, the recession of gums and even pigmented gums.


The most common cause of bad breath is poor oral hygiene habits. The mouth is full of good and bad bacteria. These bacteria feed off food that is not removed from the mouth.

Oral fungal infection is a common drug abuser. The most commonly found conditions among drug abusers are severe halitosis. They are susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections of the oral cavity.


Some people face severe anxiety causing clenching and grinding of teeth at night called nocturnal bruxism. This causes severe pain in the temporomandibular joint and causes attrition of teeth. The length of teeth slowly gets reduced making the person look older and cause difficulty in chewing.

Effects on the Brain

Marijuana has picked the popularity among drug users in recent times. Excess use of these drugs may speed up the process of losing neurons in the brain and cause mental health and psychiatric disorders.

Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, hallucinations, poor judgment, poor coordination, and clinical depression are the most common effects on the brain witnessed among drug abusers.

Effects on the Heart

One might not be aware of the effects of drug abuse on the heart since it is not directly affecting it. Drugs do affect the heart indirectly ranging from an abnormal heart rate to a heart attack caused due to collapsed veins.

Symptoms like increased heart rate and low blood pressure are commonly experienced by a drug user.

Effects on your hormones

WOMEN- Fluctuations in the hormonal levels can alter the menstrual cycle causing more cramps or even absence of periods called as amenorrhea in some women.

MALES- Males more commonly use intravenous drugs and are more likely to get STDs. Performance enhancing drugs taken to increase the testosterone levels can cause the organs to produce low levels of hormones naturally over a period of time.
Infertility and sexual dysfunction are common to both.

Medical Marijuana

Most of us are familiar with the plant marijuana commonly called weed/hash. However, anyone talking about it has a negative thought process.

But what most of us are not aware of is the medical and healing aspects of marijuana.

Medical marijuana is a plant along with some chemicals used to treat certain diseases and conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, eating disorders, loss of appetite, epilepsy, glaucoma and to some extent even cancer.

It also aids in solving mental health conditions, nausea, pain, muscle spasms, wasting syndromes. Marijuana also helps in reducing anxiety to some levels.

However one must understand the overuse of this medical marijuana also has dangerous side effects. Though it is helpful in certain conditions it can also prove to be grievous to regular marijuana consumers.


  • Understanding a thin line between drug addiction and drug abuse is very important and its effects on the brain.
  • Oral effects of drugs include dry mouth, stinky mouth, sugary cravings, attrition or bruxism and their consequences.
  • Marijuana in limited quantities have known to have medicinal properties, overusing them have adverse effects on your brain, heart nervous system and overall health.
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Author Bio: Dr. Amrita Jain is a practicing dental surgeon since 4 years. She completed her B.D.S in 2016 and was has been a rank holder throughout her course. She suggests “Holistic dentistry is the best dentistry”. Her treatment line follows a conservative pattern which means saving a tooth is of utmost priority and preventing your teeth from getting decayed rather than curing it with a root canal treatment. She inculcates the same while consulting her patients. Apart from her interest in clinical practice, she has developed interest in research and writing over a period of time. She states “It is my clinical experience that motivates me to write and spread dental awareness”. Her articles are well researched with a combination of technical knowledge and clinical experience.

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